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Research Study

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My intention for this project was to do a comprehensive study of the WPA Stearns County Biographical Sketches. My objective was two-fold: I wanted to find out if the sketches were of value beyond genealogy and I wanted to find out if they contained primary resource material that individuals might use in Stearns County local history studies.

After studying just a few of the sketches I realized I needed to do a short genealogy of the sketches themselves. I began with the grandfather of the sketches, the WPA Project itself. From there I descended to the FWP (Federal Writers Project), the WP, and then the local WP , the work that was done in Stearns County.

Having learned the lineage of the sketches, I was able to do a quantitative study of them, followed by a case study.

I chose agriculture as my case study because I wanted to find out if farmers talked· about their own lives and work or did they really feel their lives not important enough to be talked about, as I have often read in scholarly literature. The WPA sketches are unpublished, local history documents written by relief workers during the Depression about “common” people. Farmers, I have come to believe, are considered "common" people. They have not often been written about in history beyond historical novels.

The WPA Biographical Sketches are Americans talking about America. I found my answers.


The document provided is the best available scan from the original typescript document.

The WPA biographical sketches can be found at

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



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